Erasmus: New Zealand will face tougher tests
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus has predicted New Zealand will face “stiff competition” from England, Ireland and Wales in their bid to land a third successive Rugby World Cup.
Despite acknowledging the All Blacks as front-runners after their 23-13 victory over his Springboks, Erasmus suggested northern-hemisphere nations could pose problems for Steve Hansen’s men.
“I think people must remember we are four or five in the world,” said the 46-year-old. “I don’t think at this stage we are the benchmark to compare teams with.
“When you add the likes of England, Wales and Ireland, I think New Zealand will have some stiff competition heading into the final.
“There are teams that can handle their kicking game and the specific things they do – they might handle them a little bit better than we did.”
Although England recorded a four-try bonus point against Tonga, Close call: Rassie Erasmus believes New Zealand will be put under pressure their 35-3 victory was far less convincing than Ireland’s display in a 27-3 win over Scotland.
Speaking before those fixtures, Erasmus explained that both sides, as well as Warren Gatland’s Wales, should be confident of putting the All Blacks under pressure.
“I think [New Zealand] are the favourite overall – there’s no doubt about that. We are creeping closer, but they will have different challenges against England, Ireland and Wales, who have brought different threats in the past year.”